We choose what plants we grow based on a few things, some of those considerations are:
- Do we like them?
- Do you want them?
- Can we grow them?
- Will they grow well?
- Do we think you should be growing them?
- Can we make money growing and selling them?
There are many reasons you may or may not be growing a particular plant.
Here we share with you examples of results of trials that have been done on some of the types of plants we sell.
This information may help you in your decision making or help you answer questions you may have about plant performance.
Vernonias: We have a few different species to offer (V. glauca; V. lettermannii; V. noveborecensis) . Wonder what’s the difference, which may be best in your situation and which new species can add diversity to your garden check out this publication:
A Comparative Evaluation of Ironweeds from the Chicago Botanic Garden Plant Evaluation Program
Liatris. We grow 5 species of liatris. Which will work for you? Examine this Performance Report of Cultivated Blazing Stars for some guidance.
Liatris spicata ‘Kobold’ earned itself 4 stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ in this evaluation. (That’s the highest rating in this evaluation)
Mt Cuba Center’s trial gardens have been evaluations native species and their cultivars since 2003. The results of their research is available on their website. Recently they have been working with Doug Tallamy examining the pollinator and insect preferences of native plant species and cultivars.
Asters for the Mid-Atlantic Region evaluated native asters for landscape use.
Making the list of aster superstars included:
Aster oblongifolius ‘October Skies’
We may have learned them as Eupatoriums (We have 8 species of these), and now they go by Eutrochiums, but Joe Pye Weeds and their cousins are popular garden pants. Chicago Botanic Garden has also completed a comparative study of these bold garden plants.
In the Chicago Botanic Garden evaluation of hardy ornamental grasses we found we are growing many of the 5 star winners, here are just a few.
Molinia caerulea ssp. arundinaceae ‘Windspiel’
Panicum virgatum ‘Heavy Metal’
Schizachyrium scoparium ‘Jazz’
If you are interested in whether or not pollinators are as interested in a particular cultivar as you are you may want to check out Annie S. White’s research at the University of Vermont.
Proceed With Caution
When you are using these resources as guides keep in mind the conditions under which these trial plants are grown as well as the goal of the trial. The features of a plant the trial is evaluating may or may not be important to you, but the fact sheets are full of great information to help inform your decision making process. For example you may not be as interested in bloom duration as having a diversity of species or bloom times in your restoration plantings. You may be interested in solely straight species for your plant selection and the cultivars are of no interest. You may be interested in how attractive the plant is to pollinators rather than the quality of the foliage after a summer. You also want to keep in mind the date of the trial and check for any replications of the research that has happened in other areas or after a period of time. New cultivars are added to the field all of the time, and new species once overlooked for commercial production are now being reconsidered. In many cases these references may introduce you to new species or cultivars you did not know about and can now add into your designs.
Chicago Botanic Garden Plant Evaluation Program
Mt. Cuba Center Trial Garden Research
From Nursery to Nature: Evaluating Native Herbaceous Flowering Plants Versus Cultivars for Pollinator Habitat Restoration Annie White, University of Vermont